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Part I - Black Personhood and Citizenship in Transition

Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 April 2021

Teresa Zackodnik
Affiliation:
University of Alberta
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Summary

This part not only examines African American articulations of personhood and citizenship in the transition from slavery to freedom, but also asks us to revise our understanding of their location as primarily the slave narrative genre. Stephen Knadler, Erica Ball, and Michael Chaney consider what we might call exercises of disruptive citizenship in male-authored African American autobiographical narratives, arguably because it was through the figure and status of the Black male that contests over so-called civilized manliness, indebtedness, and productivity as racialized white were being waged at mid-century.1 Antislavery rhetoric was also deliberately gendered, using popular notions of manhood and womanhood to claim humanity and thereby freedom for African Americans. Abolitionists such as David Root argued in the mid-1830s that slavery disrupted gender relations, “outraging all decency and justice.” Others, like Charles Burleigh, maintained that slavery threatened or “plundered [the] rights” of white “manhood.”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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